John Hood is warning North Carolina Republicans they should learn from their mistakes in the Wake County school board elections or risk the consequences during next year's presidential fight.
In a column today in The Carolina Journal, Hood, president of the conservative John Locke Foundation, writes that "Wake County Democrats staged the shocking defeat of the one conservative, Ron Margiotta, who wasn't a newcomer to the school board." Hood criticizes how Republicans presented their message to voters.
"For the most part, their (Democratic) candidates chose clear, persuasive messages that presented themselves as reasonable-sounding alternatives to opponents they portrayed as extreme," Hood writes. "The Republican messages were muddled and unappealing."
Hood also suggests that Wake Republicans not play the blame the turnout game for the results.
"As Democrats celebrate their primary victories and seek to build on them next month, Republicans would be well advised not to react the way the Democrats did two years ago," Hood said. "They should not attempt to question the legitimacy of any shift in power by pointing to low voter turnout, as Wake County Democrats did in 2009.
Turnout is always low in municipal-election years. That serves to magnify the importance of organized voting blocs who get out their vote, be they conservatives in 2009 or liberals in 2011. It doesn't mean that the elections count any less."
Hood also writes that Republicans "shouldn't pretend that these signs of Democratic resurgence have no bearing on the higher political stakes coming in 2012."
"If Democratic and liberal groups do as good a job of turning out like-minded voters in November 2012 as they did in October 2011, and Republican and conservative groups do as poor a job of turning out theirs, Democrats will make sizable gains in legislative races and may well reelect Gov. Bev Perdue, despite her low approval ratings and other political difficulties," Hood writes.
Hood closes the column with this warning; "If North Carolina Republicans don't take their 2011 mistakes and omissions seriously, that will make failure in 2012 more likely."